Realising that the power of social media was one I should be harnessing, at the end of last year I set up an Instagram account – @caitlinjeanrussell – as a way to increase both my social and organic blog traffic. I have had somewhat of a boost in blog views from Instagram compared to when I used to just have a hyperlink on my personal account, even if it is only gradual. As my account gains popularity, the Instagram referrals are slowly but surely beginning to add up.
I cannot even begin to recount the number of ‘quick fix’ blog posts that I’ve read in the last few months about how to grow your Instagram followers, how to attain more likes and how to acquire more page interactions. Most of the posts I’ve read consist of the same list of solutions that don’t actually offer any solution. To be perfectly frank, most of them are unhelpful click bait that give a vague outline of how to sort of get some more followers, but more often than not left me more confused than when I started off.
My whole problem, I’ve come to realise, with Instagram is that I’m really lazy with it. I will be on a really good roll for a couple of weeks and then one day I’ll stop posting and my follower count will begin to dwindle, and so the cycle will repeat itself time and time again. When I had the idea to write this post I told myself that I would actually make as conscious an effort as I do to interact with other WordPress blogs on Instagram, and so for the last three days I have. In only three days my organic following has risen by over 100 followers, and here’s the things I’m doing differently to make this happen.
- Ask for features: It took me a long time to not care if pages with huge followings rejected my photos, but now that I’ve started to ask to be featured on more popular travel accounts I can’t believe it took me so long to do so. Exposure from a page with several or sometimes hundreds of thousands of followers can direct a lot of traffic your way. There are plenty of accounts dedicated to purely sharing other people’s photographs, such as accounts like @backpackerstory. All it takes is a direct message asking if they’d consider featuring one of their photos and attaching a few to the message that you think fit their theme. Some charge for features and others post them for free. I personally wouldn’t pay for a feature but that’s just my prerogative. Make sure if and when you are featured, that people who click onto your page have something coherent and interesting to look at.
- Pick a theme: Seems pretty simple, and more often than not appears in the blog posts I was slating just a few sentences ago. To make this cloudy point more evident, I’ve attached photos below of my new theme. I run a travel blog, and so most of my Instagram posts are about travel. When scrolling through my blog I noticed that I have a lot of photographs that are predominantly blue, so I decided that would be my theme. All of my posts now alternate between horizontal and landscape, so that each photo can be seen clearly when scrolling through the page, and each of them is blue to create some sense of harmony on the page.
- Network: I’ve read this before, but nobody really explains what it means. What I believe it means to network on Instagram is to like as many photos as you can be bothered liking (just being honest!) with similar hashtags and photo content to yours. For example, if I like another travel photographer’s photos then they’re more likely to be interested in my content than a sports blogger. As well as liking, follow accounts with similar content and comment on their photos to show that you’re genuinely interested in what they post. If you show someone you’re interested in them, chances are they’ll give you the time of day and return the favour.
- Use hashtags wisely: I spent a long time curating a list of hashtags to accompany my travel posts, and it was really just a case of trial and error for me. One of the easiest ways to find which hashtags are best are to search the hashtag and see how many posts have been made with it, then compare it to others. You only get a limited amount of them for every photo, so don’t use them frivolously, and make sure they relate to your post.
- Avoid Instagram pods: I’ve joined a few pods in my time, and all that happens with them is that everybody is keen for a few days then stops interacting with your posts. People who follow you on their own accord are genuinely interested in what you have to post, so spend your energy interacting with their page to keep them interested and clicking on yours.
And that’s it! My easy guide to increasing your Instagram traffic. Maybe my attitude is why I’m way behind on the follower count, but I’m sure I’ll get there some day!